on Nov 17, 2011
From this point on, most of the game revolves around a plot-driven door.
A natural side-effect of plot doors is that players will scrutinize them in direct proportion to how much hassle it is to open it. In the Neverwinter Nights 2 example I linked above, it takes the player about a quarter of the game to open a door. Therefore that potion of the game attracted a lot of analysis, which resulted in the entire thing flying apart for me.
The Assassin’s Creed 2 writers seemed to be aware of this danger, so they wisely set up this mission to examine the building and establish that it is exceptionally secure. This helps persuade the player that the upcoming steps will be justified. On the other hand, the mission itself is kind of annoying, and it doesn’t really satisfy all objections.
For example, if I was trying to sneak in to that place and kill somebody, my first thought would be, “Food and water are getting in there somehow. These are not carried by nobles. These will be carried by peasants. Maybe I should consider taking off MY MAGNIFICENTLY FLAMBOYANT CLOWN SUIT and try to slip in undetected. Maybe explore some other methods of assassination besides ‘frontal assault’.” Well, I’d think of that before I thought of “flying machine”, at any rate.
This setup made me even more angry at Ezio. He stayed his blade when all of his foes were right in front of him. Later they’ve moved into an impregnable fortress and NOW he wants to kill them?
Of course, they could have just stuck to the core mechanics and missions like the original, and then I’d fault the game for feeling repetitive. Or they could cull the repetition and I’d ding the game for being too short. Instead of the Good, fast, cheep tradeoff, games seem to have “long, diverse, well-made”. Looking at it that way, Assassin’s Creed 2 actually performs better than most games. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I let these plot-hacks slip by without comment.
EDIT: Edited the first paragraph to fix my nearly incoherent introduction.